THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Mar 9 – Sudan has failed to arrest its long-time leader Omar al-Bashir for genocide and war crimes, the International Criminal Court ruled on Monday, referring the matter back to the UN Security Council.
Bashir, 71, is wanted by The Hague-based ICC, the world’s only permanent court, for his role in the western Sudanese region of Darfur where insurgents rose up in 2003 in an ongoing conflict that has left more than 300,000 people dead.
He faces five counts of crimes against humanity including murder and torture, three of genocide and two of war crimes including attacking a civilian population.
The ICC in 2009 and 2010 issued two warrants against Bashir, but he continues to travel across the African continent despite a legal obligation by ICC member states to arrest him.
Sudan itself has not signed up to the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, but has been a member of the United Nations since 1956.
The Security Council referred the Darfur situation to the ICC for investigation in a 2005 resolution and Sudan, as a UN member is therefore obliged to cooperate, the tribunal judges said.
“The chamber considers that Sudan not only disregarded the 2009 and 2010 requests related to its obligations to cooperate in the arrest and surrender of Omar al-Bashir,” they said.
Khartoum also failed to inform the ICC why it could not carry out the arrest.
“This course of action calls upon the Security Council to take the necessary measures they deem appropriate,” the judges said.
The judges however warned that if no action was taken, the Security Council would never achieve its goal to end impunity for the world’s worst suspected offenders.
Bashir, who is gearing up for an April election expected to return him to office, last month accused the ICC and Western powers of “hounding” him.
He claimed the ICC was part “of the tools used to destabilise Sudan”, and said there never was genocide in Darfur.
Apart from Bashir, four other Sudanese including a rebel leader is also on the ICC wanted list.